Mária, die Freiwillige im deutschen Tandem-Büro

Mária Orendáčová

Volunteer at the Tandem office in Regensburg, Germany

Contact details: maria@ahoj.info

Hello, my name is Mária, I am 28 years old and I am a volunteer at the Tandem office in Regensburg. I am Czechoslovak – so I have family and my home in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I am interested in literature, languages, history and neuroscience. My hobbies also include walks and excursions, painting, reading, creative writing and music.

Why did you decide to spend a year abroad?

German-Czech relations are an important issue for my family, especially for me and my beloved grandmother from Uherské Hradiště, Marie Orendáčová. Her father and my greatest role model, Miloš Novotný, was a dissident during World War II who helped people persecuted by the Nazi regime flee occupied areas in Bohemia and Moravia to safer areas. The publication of a linocut with an anti-Nazi regime theme sent him to prison and later to concentration camps. He survived the war and his bravery, wisdom and love for life all live on – in his deeds and in his daughter.

When I was a small child, I thought I would hate German because of that story. But when I first heard German in high school, the opposite was true. Later, I also wanted to study German, but this was not possible at that time due to a number of unfavourable factors in my life. Instead, I studied English in Košice for a bachelor’s degree, then I studied biology in Prague as the focus of my master’s degree and then started a doctoral degree in medical biophysics. My life has been really colourful in this last summer semester. I have met many great people from all over the world at various events and activities that mean a lot to me. Just to name a few: Povídej si! (Czech as a foreign language for Ukrainians) at the Scout Institute in Prague, German and Ukrainian courses at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University, the Czech-German group of regulars U Bohouše in Prague, excursions with my friends from the „Association of Migratory Birds“ at my faculty at Charles University (Turistický klub PřF UK). And, of course, the conversations with my friends from the Hvězda dormitory. I owe the fact that my life has been and is so cheerful and colourful to my family and friends, who support me very much. My thanks also go to Klara Tschek, a wonderful person and German teacher who has helped me a lot in my life.

And all of this has brought me to Regensburg, to the office of Tandem, whose goal is to support German-Czech relations.

What do you hope to gain from your work as a volunteer?

I hope that, as part of my volunteer service, I will have the opportunity to support German-Czech relations. I also hope that I will be able to contribute my own ideas. I would also like to develop my professional and personal skills.

What are you most looking forward to in your year abroad?

I am looking forward to the many things that await me in Regensburg. The team in the Tandem office and our collaboration and all the adventures that will surely be associated with it. But above all, I am looking forward to all the nice people I will meet this year and to every moment full of fun and joy.

Isabelle Hawat

Isabelle Hawat

Volunteer at the Tandem office in Pilsen, CZ

Contact details: isabelle@ahoj.info

Ahoj, jsem Isabelle. 🙂
I am a volunteer in Pilsen – in two projects at once! Together with Mária, I’m taking care of the ahoj.info project this year. However, most of the time I’m volunteering at the Czech-German kindergarten Junikorn.
About me: I am 18 years old, graduated from school last year and my interests are all over the place. In my free time, I like to get creative in the kitchen, create music on the piano, laptop or with my voice, or meet up with friends. Moreover, I enjoy painting as well and playing video games now and then.

Why did you choose volunteer service?

I realised relatively early on that I wanted to experience something new. I wanted to immerse myself in a new environment, a new language, a new culture and meet new people. Before I step any further on my (formal) educational path, I wanted to take the opportunity to broaden my own understanding of the world and of Europe. And I have to say, my view of life and its possibilities is constantly growing. Especially as a recent high school graduate, you are only used to your own little pond! I urge everyone to think about volunteering abroad. Why don’t you apply at Tandem? 😉

What activities are you looking forward to most?

Due to my “few” hours per week at Tandem, I have focussed entirely on the video workshop. Above all, I took care of its content and helped with organisational preparation, as well as its holding. In the future, I look forward to helping with the preparation and implementation of youth meetings.

Why did you want to go to the Czech Republic?

My application process always had the following steps: At first, I looked into the project, the organisation and the planned content of the voluntary service. Afterwards, I researched (certain) information about the country in question.
When I was sure that I wanted to apply for the volunteer position here in Pilsen, I did a bit of research on the Czech Republic. I realised two things particularly. Firstly, how surprisingly little I knew about the neighbouring country and secondly, what an interesting country the Czech Republic actually is. I was sure that a longer stay would be exactly the right decision.

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